Category Archives: Estate Planning Philosophy

Non-traditional relationships also need estate planning.


Mara-Britta.jpgIf you have an important non-traditional relationship other than marriage, it is especially imperative that your legal affairs are in order. Sometimes the need for a will, trust and powers of attorney comes on like a lightning bolt.  As demonstrated by this cartoon vignette taken from Eric G. Matlin’s book Not Dead Yet, so plan your estate, life can change in a hurry.

Matlin Law Group, P.C. gives congratulations and best wishes to the organizers and participants of Chicago’s 49th annual Chicago Pride Festival June 16, 2018-June 17, 2018 and Chicago Pride Parade on June 24, 2018. The annual Pride Festival and Parade proudly celebrate Chicago’s diverse LGBTQ community with a dizzying array of great music, exhibitors, food, drink and creativity. Enjoy the revelry and be safe!  See our ad in Our Community (Chicago) guide highlighting  Chicago LGBTQ events this summer.

Matlin Law Group, serving the LGBTQ community for over 25 years, offers free initial estate plan consultations. We do our best to make our estate planning as transparent as possible, so you can feel welcome calling us today at 1-847-770-6600 .

A blog article by:

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin

 

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“Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle”


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“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” Each year, nearly 45,000 Americans commit suicide, and that’s often the common refrain heard after the loss by their own hand of a friend, loved one, or adored celebrity like Kate Spade. We all have our own internal struggles, some significantly more difficult than others, and most will remain in the darkness, unknown to even those closest to us.

At Matlin Law Group, our primary focus is helping our clients and their families. And that duty extends to helping them help each other. So please, if you suspect someone you love may be struggling with issues related to their mental health, don’t wait. Reach out. Connect. Be the helping hand they may need before it’s too late. If there’s any way we can assist you or your family deal with issues of mental health, please don’t hesitate to contact us. And if we can’t help you, we’ll always do our best to find you someone who can. Call Matlin Law Group, P.C at 1-847-770-6600 or visit our website at  www.matlinlawgroup.com

An article by Attorney Ryan S. Smith

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Barbara Bush’s Comfort Care Decision at End of Life – Rest in Peace


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At the end of life, families are often faced with decisions about whether to continue to treat health conditions facing a loved one or whether to simply provide comfort care. Would you give chemotherapy for cancer to a 90 + year old who is suffering from cardiac failure?  There are often no right or wrong answers to these questions, as they are very personal decisions.

Recently, Barbara Bush’s failing health was broadcast throughout the American media.  The former First Lady and mother of another President died yesterday. By all accounts, her death was peaceful and she was well aware of the loving family that surrounded her. Prior to her death, Mrs. Bush made the decision to shift her health decisions from treatment to comfort care. She then left the hospital and was cared for at her family home until her death.

When faced with a terminal condition, many people choose to sign a POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). POLSTs are similar in purpose, but often more robust than the historically more familiar DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form, and also require a physician’s signature. It is unclear whether the former First Lady signed the POLST herself or whether her agent under Power of Attorney for Health Care actually signed it. The considerations that go into signing a POLST include the knowledge that the person whose life is on the line has a terminal medical condition, there is no hope for meaningful recovery, and treatment will only delay the dying process.

Absent your own capacity, who would you trust the most among your family and friends to make such a decision? A Health Care Power of Attorney allows YOU to choose. Incapacity is not a calendar item. An unexpected and devastating event can put you or a loved one in a mess (family conflict, guilt, legal battles…) that compounds the sadness and difficulties surrounding the medical situation.

If you have not taken action to select a healthcare agent and execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care, we encourage you to do so now.  Call Matlin Law Group, P.C at 1-847-770-6600 or visit our website at www.matlinlawgroup.com

 

Article by:

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin

 

Should Your Executor Be Your Eldest Child?


When we meet with our estate planning clients to talk about who might act for them in the event of disability or death, we talk about who their children are, good, bad and ugly. For those without children, we look at extended family and friends. Often, the client feels obligated to appoint their eldest child even if this might not be the best choice. It is so important to be honest about these things when planning for disability and death. The relationships of your family members, one to the other and to you, are so important to explore openly.”

Being an agent under power of attorney, an executor, or a trustee is a JOB. Ask anyone who had acted in this capacity for another person. We have had clients tell us that they had no idea how big of a job handling another person’s money was until they had to DO it. They say that, if they had known in advance how hard of a job it was, they might have declined to act! Add on top of it that it is often a THANKLESS job. No one who has not acted in such a position can really understand it.

So, who in your family would be an ideal candidate for such a position? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Who has the time to do this? Do not pick someone who works 90 hour weeks!

2. Who will give prompt attention to the job? Pick someone who will put first things first. Do not pick a procrastinator!

3. Who has the experience to know when to rely upon themselves and when to rely upon others? Do not pick the know it all. Pick someone who knows their own limitations and knows when to seek expert advice.

4. Who has honesty and integrity? Pick someone you believe will not treat your money like their own. Anyone who you have any doubt about in this regard should be avoided. They will only get themselves into a whole lot of trouble.

5. Who has your philosophy about money? Pick someone whose thinking regarding money and its’ appropriate use is in line with yours.

6. Who is firm but fair? Pick someone who has the strength to do what is right, even in the face of opposition, someone who will treat all your beneficiaries with loyalty and fairness. People do not change, if they fought as children, it is likely they will fight as adults.

7. Is your eldest child really the one who is best suited to be your executor based upon the above questions? Do not pick your eldest child, just because they are your eldest child, if they do not have the above qualities.

If no one in your family fits the bill, we recommend using a corporate fiduciary (a bank or a trust company that will efficiently, professionally and unemotionally handle finances for you and your family). Yes. There will be costs associated with that, but maintaining family harmony (and avoiding costs of litigation if things go wrong) are well worth it. We have seen too many families be destroyed by money issues! Do not let this be your family.

Please take action today to explore these issues and make tough choices for yourself and your family.

By: Julie A. Kolodziej

MLG – Matlin Law Group, P.C.

Local author pens estate planning book


Glencoe Anchor

Alan P. Henry, Freelance Reporter

12:59 am CDT March 28, 2018

 The challenge, as Eric Matlin saw it, was to write a how-to handbook on the dry-as-dust subject of estate planning that was not just comprehensive, as many such books are, but also approachable and fun to read, which are not descriptors typically associated with such a topic.

The reason for such a strategy: “the best book to help you learn about estate planning is one you will actually read,” said Matlin, an attorney whose Northbrook-based practice has concentrated on estate planning for 28 years.

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Matlin and his wife Gloria, a Glencoe-based realtor, raised their two children in Glencoe and have been married for 42 years.

The Winnetka resident has authored “Not Dead Yet” (Ozanam Publishing), a serious, A to Z, estate-planning handbook that also includes a 110 page hand-drawn graphic novel that demonstrates the kind of nightmares that occur when people of any age do not plan for life’s uncertainties.

Each of the 24 chapters in “Not Dead Yet” are preceded by a comic book-style vignette, often relating to the text that follows.

“Together, they tell the story of Don, his family and his friends, and why estate planning is important, even to those who cannot fathom why they would need it, now or ever. You’ll recognize parts of Don’s story in yourself or in people you’ve known. You may even come to realize the urgency of putting your wishes to paper,” Matlin said.

“No matter who you are, you will see yourself somewhere in the pages of ‘Not Dead Yet,’” said Matlin, who wrote the book over the course of eight years while at his second home in South Haven, Mich.

Matlin’s core philosophy is that estate planning benefits everyone, regardless age, health or economic circumstances, and “Not Dead Yet,” both through the text and the graphic novel, demonstrates a continuum of needs for people of all ages, including:

  • The college student whose power of attorney for health and HIPAA authorization may help ameliorate a catastrophic situation for parents.
  • The new parents needing a will to name a guardian who determines their child’s living arrangements.
  • The blended family needing a trust to avoid one side of the family being left out.
  • The typical needs of the affluent, elderly, ill and those with special needs.

Matlin believes the unique approach appeals to younger readers who would never consider reading a book on the subject.

“Some people can read by text, some people like the visual,” Matlin said. “I was always into comics. I wanted to expand the demographic of people who need estate planning but don’t realize they need it. I asked, ‘How can I appeal to younger people? Through a comic book.’”

The graphic novel was a collaborative effort between Matlin and graphic artists Troy Locker Palmer and Gabriel Bautista.

People of all ages, he said, need to understand that “life is not a calendar item.” To those who don’t plan ahead, he warns: “decisions are going to be made by other people, not the people that you would necessarily choose. What we want to do is keep the courts out of people’s lives. Not doing this is in itself a decision, because by not doing it everything is by formula and court involvement.”

In “Not Dead Yet,” Matlin offers a user’s guide of sorts. Similar to a dining guide listing prices in restaurants, chapters are marked with different numbers of dollar signs. The more a person is worth, the more closely he should look at chapters with the increasing numbers of dollar signs. Chapter 8, on health care and financial powers of attorney, living will and HIPPA authorization, is marked by a cent, and should be read by all, because “it just makes good sense.”

Matlin is a graduate of DePaul University and The John Marshall Law School. He has written estate plans for thousands of families, ranging from people with a negative net worth to people worth over $10 million. His first book on estate planning, “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Wills and Estate Planning” was published in 2004.

Sales of “Not Dead Yet” are supporting various charities, including The Josselyn Center in Northfield. Matlin also volunteers for CJE Senior Life at Lieberman Center. He also gives estate planning seminars to interested groups and is available for public speaking engagements.

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500 Skokie Blvd | Northbrook, IL 60062

www.MatlinLawGroup.com

For more information, call Eric at

1-847-770-6600

Eric Matlin

Eric G. Matlin

Being a trustee or executor is stressful. Become de-stressed.


You have been chosen by a family member or friend to act for them or on behalf of their family in times of need.  While you want to help, it is a big responsibility that can be very time-consuming and emotionally draining.  It is easy to feel overworked and underappreciated.  The saying “It is a thankless job, but someone has to do it” is directly on point.
Some of the duties involved in acting as executor and probating an estate are:
  • File the will in the correct court;
  • Collect, protect and inventory the estate;
  • Notify all heirs, beneficiaries and creditors of the estate;
  • Publish notices of death;
  • File all required taxes;
  • Prepare and provide accounting for approval of heirs or legatees.
  • File all required taxes;
  • Distribute assets; and
  • Close the estate.

While serving as trustee for a trust administration is different because it can sometimes be handled privately, outside of the court, many of the fiduciary duties are the same. If you miss a step or file something incorrectly, it can create delays and cause a major headache while you try to back-step and get everything corrected. 

Wouldn’t it be a relief to get the beneficiaries off your back?  Make your life simple again?  Reduce your personal risk?  Spend less time?  Delegate?  Preserve family relationships?  Balance the many demands of this job with your other work and personal time?

The key to a smooth, efficient, worry-free estate or trust administration is to have a plan.  You need a plan for administering a probate or trust estate that is as efficient as possible with the least amount of time and energy required.

How does that happen? You have two options:

1. You can do work, take a wage for your time, pay taxes and hope that you do things right. You can deal with family members, jealousies, and family history yourself. You can risk damaging family relationships, making mistakes and opening yourself up to liability and litigation.

OR

2. You can have someone who has the expertise do the work in less time and with higher quality.  Hiring an expert protects you from personal liability. A professional can remain neutral and objective and complete the job without the emotional aspects coming into play.

By hiring expert legal advisors, you will learn exactly what needs to be done and get help to do it.  At Matlin Law Group, P.C., we equip executors and trustees with the skills and strategies to keep both probate estate and trust administration on track and bring balance between the job of executor or trustee and your personal life. Matlin Law Group is your resource for both outsourcing your fiduciary workload and receiving strategic direction – a sustainable plan for successful estate and trust administration.

Schedule a consultation and get on the right track toward a successful estate administration today. SCHEDULE  A CONSULTATION

Copyright © Matlin Law Group, P.C.

Do you need a health care power of attorney? The answer might surprise you.


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Let’s back up a little bit and talk first about what a health care power of attorney is. A health care power of attorney ensures that your medical wishes are carried out even if you are unable to communicate those wishes. For example, if you are unconscious or incoherent and cannot consent to medical procedures, a healthcare power of attorney will handle those issues on your behalf.

What does a Healthcare Power of Attorney do?

A health care power of attorney document can do two things: explicitly state your medical wishes and appoint an individual to make health care decisions on your behalf. Those two things tend to work in tandem – the individual you appoint will use your explicit wishes as guidelines on other issues that may not be clearly spelled out in the document.

In a health care power of attorney, you can state things such as:

  • Whether you want cardiac resuscitation
  • Whether you want a feeding tube; and
  • Whether you want mechanical respirator.

Who Should I Appoint as My Health Care Power of Attorney?

Deciding who to appoint as your health care power of attorney is a very personal decision. Many people choose family members such as spouses, parents or adult children. It’s important to talk with the person you want to appoint and ensure they agree to serve and understand their responsibilities as your health care power of attorney. If you are unsure of who to appoint, we can certainly help you make a list of your options and decide on the best person.

Who Needs a Health Care Power of Attorney?

To be frank, everyone over the age of 18 should have a health care power of attorney in place. Children under 18 do not need one because their parents act as their guardians; in fact, no one under the age of 18 can legally create one. However, as soon as you turn 18, the law does not designate someone to make decisions on your behalf. We never know what the future holds and when tragedy may strike – that’s why it’s important to have this document even if you are 100% healthy.

Without a health care power of attorney, there may be arguments and confusion among family members. The courts may have to intervene. And most importantly, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out. Remember, if something unexpected were to happen, your loved ones will be experiencing a lot of emotions; having your wishes documented will at least take a little bit of stress off of your family members.

Want to learn more about why everyone needs a health care power of attorney and other documents we should all have? Check out the book Not Dead Yet (specifically Chapter 8) for information on health care powers of attorney, HIPPA authorizations and more.

If you’re ready to create your Health Care Power of Attorney, give us a call at (847) 770-6600.